Spotting a Lie at an Interview

    By Meaghan Marshall | Small Business

    23% of job seekers say they have lied or would lie during the interview process. These lies can range from a complete fabrication to the omission of information.  While a little exaggeration, perhaps claiming to be more experienced or more successful is probably expected. You need to be on alert for the big lies, the ones that can result in costly hiring mistakes.

    Spotting a lie at interview can be difficult. After all most of the classic signs of lying, nervousness, fidgeting, avoiding eye contact, voice changes are also normal reactions to a stressful situation; like a job interview!

    The first step to spotting a lie is to determine a candidates natural behavior. You need to observe verbal and no verbal responses to questions answered truthfully and assess level of general nervousness in order to observe any changes.  An interview is usually structured in a way that eases a candidate into an interview with some warm up questions. Ask questions that you know will be answered truthfully to establish a baseline of behavior.

    To spot a lie you will need to be listening and watching carefully. Clues will be provided verbally and non-verbally.

    Here are some clues to be looking for:

    • Avoids direct questions
    • Speech pattern changes or speech does not flow naturally
    • Repeating the question to allow time to fabricate
    • Less eye contact
    • Blinking increases
    • Creating a barrier by leaning back or crossing arms
    • Throat clearing
    • Insincere smiling
    • Overly detailed answers
    • Fidgeting
    • Disconnects in body language and verbal responses. Nodding “yes” but responding “no”
    • Covering mouth or eyes

    You should be looking for multiple clues. Just because a candidate gives poor eye contact does not automatically mean they are lying. If poor eye contact is observed along with other clues then you should be on alert. Behavior should always be compared to established natural behavior.

    If you suspect a candidate is lying then you should ask follow up questions to gain more information. If you have doubts you should also check facts when conducting background checks.

    What is the biggest lie you have heard at interview? Have you ever caught someone in a lie? Share your experiences.

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